New volleyball coach discusses her path to GW and the 2017 season
Colonials add three freshmen and a graduate transfer to roster
Colonials to play 14 matches at home in first season under new head coach Sarah Bernson
Former American assistant to lead Colonials as ninth head coach in program history
In her first season at the helm, Bernson led the Colonials on an improbable run to the final four of the Atlantic 10 Championship after guiding the team to a historic upset in the quarterfinals of the tournament. The Colonials became the first team in Atlantic 10 history to win a quarterfinal match as a No. 6 seed since the tournament shifted formats in 2009. GW outlasted No. 3 seed Saint Louis in five sets at Duquesne's A.J. Palumbo Center.
GW finished the season with an 11-21 overall record and a 6-8 mark in the Atlantic 10. GW surged in the later portion of the season to make the postseason, going 3-2 in a critical five-match stretch at the end of the regular season to earn a spot in the A-10 Championship field.
Bernson was announced as the ninth head coach in GW Volleyball history on July 5, 2017.
Bernson came to GW after serving as assistant coach at nearby American University for the five seasons. During her tenure at American, Bernson helped the Eagles to a dominant stretch that includes a five-year record of 136-36 (.795), four consecutive Patriot League championships and four straight trips to the NCAA Tournament.
In 2013, the Eagles rolled through the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament with 3-0 sweeps over Georgia and Duke to make the program's first-ever Sweet 16 appearance.
At American, Bernson played a large role in recruiting, training and operations and helped in the development of six All-Patriot League selections, two Freshmen of the Year and one Libero of the Year.
She also has served as the head coach for the Rising Tide of the Premier Volleyball League (PVL), USA Volleyball's professional league, where she has coached former GW Volleyball players such as Maggie Skejelbred '16, Lauren Whyte '13 and Candace Silva-Martin '13.
Prior to her time at American, Bernson spent eight years at Cornell University, including three seasons as head coach, where she helped lead the Big Red to a trio of Ivy League Championships (2004-06) and two NCAA Tournament appearances. While at Cornell she also recruited and developed the program's first-ever All-American and all-time kills leader.
She also had a collegiate coaching stop at Cal State Monterey Bay (Assistant Coach, 2001-04) where she helped in the school's transition from NAIA to NCAA Division II.
Bernson played collegiately at Saint Mary's (Calif.) where she was a team captain as a senior. She earned her bachelor's degree in English and Art in 1999.
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